Fir`awn's turning against the Magicians, His threatening Them and Their Reply
Allah, the Exalted, informs of Fir`awn's disbelief, obstinance, transgression and haughtiness against the truth in favor of falsehood. When he saw what he saw of the magnificent miracle and the great sign, and he saw those whose help he sought accept faith in the presence of all of the people, and he was absolutely defeated, he began to behave arrogantly and cast accusations. He resorted to using his esteemed honor and might against the magicians. He warned them and threatened them saying,
(Believe you in him (Musa)) This means, "Do you have faith in him''
قَبْلَ أَنْ ءَاذَنَ لَكُمْ
(before I give you permission) meaning, "I have not commanded you to do so, by which you have rebelled against me.'' Then he said a statement that he, the magicians and all creatures knew was a forgery and an utter lie.
إِنَّهُ لَكَبِيرُكُمُ الَّذِى عَلَّمَكُمُ السِّحْرَ
(Verily, he is your chief who has taught you magic.) meaning "You all only took your magic from Musa and you have made an agreement with him against me and my subjects, that you would help him be victorious.'' Allah says in another Ayah,
إِنَّ هَـذَا لَمَكْرٌ مَّكَرْتُمُوهُ فِى الْمَدِينَةِ لِتُخْرِجُواْ مِنْهَآ أَهْلَهَا فَسَوْفَ تَعْلَمُونَ
(Surely, this is a plot which you have plotted in the city to drive out its people, but you shall come to know.) 7:123 Then he began threatening them. He said to them,
فَلأُقَطِّعَنَّ أَيْدِيَكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ مِّنْ خِلاَفٍ وَلأُصَلِّبَنَّكُمْ فِى جُذُوعِ النَّخْلِ
(So I will surely cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will surely crucify you on the trunks of date palms,) meaning, "I will certainly make an example of you, I will kill you in a public execution.'' Ibn `Abbas said, "Thus, he was the first person to ever do this (public execution, crucifixion).'' This was reported by Ibn Abi Hatim. Concerning Allah's statement,
وَلَتَعْلَمُنَّ أَيُّنَآ أَشَدُّ عَذَاباً وَأَبْقَى
(And you shall surely know which of us can give the severe and more lasting torment.) This means, "You say that my people and I are astray and that you (magicians), Musa and his people are following correct guidance, but you will come to know who will be punished and remain punished.'' So when he attacked with this and threatened them, their souls eased them because of their belief in Allah, the Mighty and Sublime. They exclaimed,
قَالُواْ لَن نُّؤْثِرَكَ عَلَى مَا جَآءَنَا مِنَ الْبَيِّنَـتِ
(They said: "We prefer you not over what have come to us of the clear signs...'') meaning, "We do not chose you over the guidance and conviction that we have received. ''
(and to Him (Allah) Who created us.) It could be that they were swearing, "By He Who has created us.'' It also could be connected in meaning to the clear signs mentioned before it. In this case it would mean, "We do not prefer you over our Originator and Creator, Who produced us from a beginning that was nothing. He created us from clay (or mud). Therefore, He alone deserves worship and humility and you do not (Fir`awn)!''
فَاقْضِ مَآ أَنتَ قَاضٍ
(So decree whatever you desire to decree,) "Do whatever you wish and whatever your hands are able to achieve.''
إِنَّمَا تَقْضِى هَـذِهِ الْحَيَوةَ الدُّنْيَآ
(for you can only decree (regarding) this life of the world.) meaning, "You only have power in this world and it is a world that will come to an end. Verily, we are hoping in the eternal abode.''
إِنَّآ آمَنَّا بِرَبِّنَا لِيَغْفِرَ لَنَا خَطَـيَـنَا
(Verily, we have believed in our Lord, that He may forgive us our faults,) "Whatever evils that we did.'' It specifically means, `which we were forced to do of magic, in order to oppose the sign of Allah and the miracle of His Prophet.' Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn `Abbas said concerning Allah's statement,
وَمَآ أَكْرَهْتَنَا عَلَيْهِ مِنَ السِّحْرِ
(and the magic to which you compelled us.) "Fir`awn took forty boys from the Children of Israel and commanded that they be taught magic at Al-Farama. He said, `Teach them knowledge that no one in the land knows.''' Ibn `Abbas then said, "They were of those who believed in Musa and they were of those who said,
آمَنَّا بِرَبِّنَا لِيَغْفِرَ لَنَا خَطَـيَـنَا وَمَآ أَكْرَهْتَنَا عَلَيْهِ مِنَ السِّحْرِ
(We have believed in our Lord, that He may forgive us our faults, and the magic to which you did compel us.)'' `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said the same. Allah's statement,
وَاللَّهُ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَى
(And Allah is better as regards reward in comparison to your reward, and more lasting.) means, "He is better for us than you.''
(and more lasting.) More lasting in reward than what you pro- mised us and made us aspire to. It is apparent that Fir`awn (may Allah curse him) was bent upon their punishment, and that what he did to them was a mercy from Allah for them. This is why Ibn `Abbas and others of the Salaf said, "They woke up in that morning as magicians, but they became witnesses of faith by the evening. ''